Congress Gets an Upgrade
$500 Million Slated for Purchase of Eight More Planes as Lawmakers' Travel Soars
WASHINGTON -- Congress plans to spend $550 million to buy eight jets, a substantial upgrade to the fleet used by federal officials at a time when lawmakers have criticized the use of corporate jets by companies receiving taxpayer funds.
The purchases will help accommodate growing travel demand by congressional officials. The planes augment a fleet of about two dozen passenger jets maintained by the Air Force for lawmakers, administration officials and military chiefs to fly on government trips in the U.S. and abroad.
The congressional shopping list goes beyond what the Air Force had initially requested as part of its annual appropriations. The Pentagon sought to buy one Gulfstream V and one business-class equivalent of a Boeing 737 to replace aging planes. The Defense Department also asked to buy two additional 737s that were being leased.
*whats good for the goose is NEVER good for the gandor
Congress turned harshly critical of companies that fly executives on private jets in the weeks following the government bailout of banks and auto makers last year. General Motors, Chrysler LLC and Citigroup Inc. were among those caught in the cross hairs of angry lawmakers.
*and it's pubbies and donkey's
This month, for example, 11 separate congressional delegations will swing through Germany. House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio is leading five other lawmakers on a trip around the world. Sen. Richard Shelby (R., Ala.) is taking a group of senators and their spouses to Europe for three weeks.
A spokesman for Mr. Boehner said he couldn't comment on the trip for security reasons. A spokeswoman for Mr. Shelby said the same.
There is often a shortage of military planes for use by lawmakers when Congress is in recess, according to emails from 2007 obtained by the conservative group Judicial Watch under a Freedom of Information Act Request.
In June 2007, the House's travel coordinator, Kay King, was told that all military planes were booked for the July 4 recess. She replied to the Air Force officer: "This is not good news, and we will have some very disappointed folks, as well as a very upset Speaker."
Drew Hammill, a spokesman for Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, said Thursday, "The speaker is extraordinarily appreciative of the Department of Defense's efforts to accommodate requests from Congress."
*let em fly coach like the rest of us. If they don't like waiting then go home and stay home.